Boeing B-52F Stratofortress - "Fuel Starvation & Bail-Out" - 3/14/61
SEARCH CONTINUES FOR MISSING ATOM BOMB AFTER B52 CRASH
US B-52 Bomber Crash at London
On 14 March 1961 an aircraft accident occurred near Yuba City, California. A United States Air Force B-52F-70-BW Stratofortress bomber, AF Serial No. 57-0166, c/n 464155, carrying two nuclear weapons departed from Mather Air Force Base near Sacramento. According to the official Air Force report, the aircraft experienced an uncontrolled decompression that required it to descend to 10,000 feet (3,000 m) in order to lower the cabin altitude. Increased fuel consumption caused by having to fly at lower altitude, combined with the inability to rendezvous with a tanker in time caused the aircraft to run out of fuel. The aircrew ejected safely, and then the unmanned aircraft crashed 15 miles (24 km) west of Yuba City, tearing the nuclear weapons from the aircraft on impact. However, in a 2012 book LTC Earl McGill, a retired SAC B-52 pilot, claims that the aircrew, after an inflight refueling session that provided inadequate fuel, refused the offer of an additional, unscheduled inflight refueling, bypassed possible emergency landing fields and ran out of fuel. The crew ejected, the aircraft broke up and four onboard nuclear weapons were released. The weapons' multiple safety interlocks prevented both a nuclear explosion and release of radioactive material. LTC McGill, based on his SAC experience, blames the aircrew failures on the use of dexedrine to combat fatigue on the 24-hour flight preceding the accident.